Are you in a controlling relationship? Here’s what you need to know to handle it.
Red flags of a controlling boyfriend
Everyone wants to be loved, right? There’s nothing better than being cherished and treasured by the man you love but sometimes that love can feel like he’s suffocating you. He’s holding too tight and you start to see and feel that that kind of love is not good, in fact, it’s toxic and can only cause damage.
When you’re in a relationship, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a caring boyfriend from a controlling one. The line is very fine so it’s very hard to make a distinction.
Are you with a controlling boyfriend or spouse? or is he just caring or a little bit jealous or insecure? How can you tell or be sure? Most people like to think they can spot a controlling person just by meeting them. There’s no way you would have hooked up with him if you’d know he was controlling right? Well, controlling people tend to be very good at hiding their behavior.
His control taking happens very subtlely. Through the power of persuasive suggestion, he starts gaining a few inches here and there. Or, he is so good that he’s got you thinking that you’re the one messing up and he’s just trying to fix you with his support. Granted, a controlling boyfriend is going to be overt about some things but there’s a good chance that his behavior (his plays for power) is going to be difficult to detect. He’ll be completely unassuming.
So, if you suspect that your boyfriend or spouse might be controlling but want to be absolutely sure, you’ll have to look for some signs or red flags now. You need to address this issue as soon as possible before it becomes dangerous for you.
Signs of a controlling boyfriend or spouse
The good news is that, although he may be sleek about it, there are some clear signs that can shed light on his controlling behavior.
1. He keeps a scorecard (a toxic one)
This is one of the most common forms of controlling behavior. He keeps tabs on every little interaction in the relationship and he uses this toxic scoreboard to show you what you “owe him”. You see, he does all this little “favors” for you (obviously he’s keeping an unfair score) and you’re not reciprocating the same way. That’s his way of manipulating you, by making it appear that he’s doing more for you than you’re doing for him.
2. He makes you feel like you’ve done something wrong
He’s extremely skilled at making you appear guilty when you have done nothing wrong. He’ll make you think you’re the one sabotaging your professional success (when it was really him) or that you leave messes everywhere so you’re a slob (total BS) or that you were flirting with that guy, which you were not. Sound familiar?
In order to control you, he needs leverage and making you doubt yourself because of his constant false accusations is exactly the ammunition his needs.
3. He bombards you with criticism
He wants to control every aspect of your being, not just your whereabouts and the time you spend there, he wants to control who you are, what you’re doing and why. He wants to mold you into an image of his liking, he wants to change you so you’ll do what he wants and believe what he believes.
That’s why he’s constantly criticizing. He criticizes your wardrobe, how you stand, how you talk, what you do in your free time. He criticizes your friends, your job… and the list goes on and on. At first, the critics are sparse but then they become a barrage. The trick is that he makes a compelling argument of the criticism so he’s very convincing until you succumb to it.
4. He’s trying to isolate you from family and friends
He’s trying to gain absolute control over you, so his first strategy is to isolate you from your loved ones (family, friends) because they can be your allies (they give you strength and unwavering support) and he doesn’t want you having anyone to depend on but him. This is a truly dangerous sign that he’s controlling because it shows that his capacity for manipulation is really high.
5. He makes veiled threats (at first)
If this sounds scaring, it is because it is. Has this happened to you? We bet the first time it was really unsettling. He has to have his way one way or the other so he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. His threats, in the beginning, are very under the radar. He mixes them up, casually into a conversation, but once you pay attention to what he’s saying you’ll see the red flag clearly.
What to do? How to handle the controlling relationship so it doesn’t become dangerous
Now that you’re aware of the major red flags to identify a controlling boyfriend or spouse, you need to handle it. Maybe he has shown one of the signs (he was having a bad day, still not excusable), you can talk to him and explained that his behavior is not acceptable and that he should check himself before repeating it and that may be enough.
But if after analyzing all the red flags, he checks almost everyone, you should acknowledge the fact that your boyfriend or spouse has a controlling behavior and you need to do something about it.
1. Always keep in touch with your loved ones
When dealing with a controlling partner, you need all the support and help you can get and who better to provide that than your family and friends. So, no matter what keep them close.
2. Work relentlessly on your confidence
It’s harder for you to be controlled if your confidence is always on the high. He may be very good at trying to chip it away with his criticism and veiled threats, but if you stay firm and are always making things to build your confidence, then his efforts to destroy it will not see the light of day. Exercise, take good care of yourself and seek therapy if necessary.
3. Be prepared with a plan
If you decide that you’ve had enough, that it’s not worth it to stay in the relationship because it has the potential of becoming a violent one, you need to have a plan. You know how he operates, so device strategies to counteract all the tricks he’s going to use to stop you from leaving. If you need help to put that plan in action don’t hesitate to ask for it.
4. Don’t take the situation lightly
We know accepting the fact that you’ve been in a controlling relationship with a guy you thought was great is hard and difficult to accept, nevertheless, you need to take your situation seriously. A person with a controlling behavior can turn violent and/or abusive in a snap of a finger. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you, because it can. Make the decision to get out.
Don’t let anyone control get control of your life. As much as you love him, that is not acceptable and can only end in a toxic relationship that’s not going to make you happy. Take care of yourself so no one can take a foothold on your life.